Battlefield Vietnam (1998)

March 1st, 2009

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I was the senior designer on the PBS documentary series ‘Battlefield Vietnam’ which took two years to make and was finally released in 1998. The series was commissioned on the back of the original Second World War series ‘Battlefield’ which we – I was a freelancer working for Lamancha Productions in Edinburgh Scotland – had previously made between 1994-96.

For anyone interested in a little web history, you can find the original website I created for TimeLife Video in 1999 here at Battlefield Vietnam.

The series was a major technical challenge for me as each of the twelve one-hour long episodes had a large number of graphics all of which required rendering – a big deal in those days. So even the logistics involved were tricky. On top of that we had to make sense of most of the major battles fought during the ‘10,000 day war’ and illustrate troop movements and guerilla warfare. Just to give an idea of the level of detail required by the producer Dave Flitton, some of the fighting was done on individual neighbouring hills, each of which had to be accurate in relative scale and be named according to original sources.

The Khe Sanh episodes involved such extremes of scale in the maps, going from the whole of South East Asia to being able to see details of the base itself within the same graphic, that we made maps within maps within maps. It probably doesn’t sound much now but all the graphics were done on a couple of very early Pentiums. Wow it’s got a 2gb hard disk, I thought.

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  1. Mark

    I remember watching this series when it came out in 1998-1999. I was impressed at the time, and I remain impressed – I rewatched the entire series not too long ago. I think that the graphics have held up well over time – the large-scale to small-scale zooms on the maps are quite well done! Honestly I think that this series is light-years beyond the original Battlefield work, and I’m just sorry that this series isn’t recognized more widely. I don’t believe it is even available on DVD…

    Best of luck with your work!

  2. admin

    Thanks Mark. It is available on DVD by Universal, you can get it through Amazon.

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